Who wants to watch people swear at each other on national television? Who wants to watch people throw punches, shoes and chairs at each other on national television? Who wants to see women (and rather large women at that) remove their clothing and jump up and down on national television? I do.
Look for the messy-haired Mark Wembridge in his front row seat on a Jerry Springer episode to be aired sometime in the near future. To get your own free tickets to be in the studio audience call 1 (312) 321-5365 or visit www.jerryspringer.com. Shows are recorded at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. If you have a secret you would like to share with your partner and the rest of the world call 1(800) 96-JERRY, and tell them about it.
So my partner and I drove up to Chicago to be in the studio audience for The Jerry Springer Show. Upon our arrival at the NBC Tower we were greeted by the sight of a long line of guests. At last, we had our ID and tickets checked, walked through a metal detector and were told what we could and couldn’t wear during filming. From the waiting room we were ushered into the now half-full studio and told where to sit. Don’t ask me how, but somehow we were told to sit in the center of the front row. We were as close to the action as it gets: about 5 feet from the “guests” and their jaw-dropping problems. The floor manager, Toby, gave us instructions on when to cheer, when to laugh, when to stand up and chant, “Jerry! Jerry!” and punch our fists in the air. His job was also to initiate audience chants like “Sit down, whore!” or “Take it off!” Then in walked Jerry. He looked older, shorter and more rotund in the flesh. But he is the King of Trash TV, so you have to give the guy and his show credit for surviving for 13 years. The bright lights came up, the filming began and the guests came out to tell their tales. The first guests to tell their story to Springer and the rest of the world were two sisters from Georgia who were fighting over a man you could hardly call attractive. Apparently, when one sister was away selling magazines in another city, the other was making the moves on her unemployed, drunken boyfriend. The next set of guests were cringe-worthy. A woman who had overcome cancer and lost a breast in the process had discovered her husband was sleeping with their neighbor. Apparently, he went over to borrow a cup of sugar and “got a lot more than sugar.” The woman wanted her husband back. Tears flowed, voices were raised and the wife was on her knees hugging her husband’s legs and begging him to come back. “Get it through your thick skull, I don’t love you anymore,” he yelled. “The only reason I stayed with you was because of the cancer.” There were raw human emotions on stage right in front of me. My partner was close to tears and the audience was quiet. One of the rules the floor manager told us before filming commenced was to jump on stage and dance when we heard hillbilly music blaring over the speakers. So guess when the producers decided to press play? Naturally, they chose the most poignant moment of the show to make us start dancing around a woman on her knees in tears. My guilt only kicked in after the exuberance of the moment had passed. Every Jerry Springer show ends with the ritual heckling of guests by the audience and the flashing of breasts in return for Jerry Beads. I lost count of the number of breasts I saw jiggling in front of my face at 26 or so. The weirdest winner of Jerry Beads was a woman in her early 40s who came to the show with her 20-something son. He covered his eyes and turned his head when his mom lifted her top and flashed the world. The poor boy might need therapy after that.